A 2-0 start has the Wilmington College football team in a pretty good place.
But after defeating a pair of winless teams with late-game dramatics, the Quakers get a much stiffer challenge Friday night at Townsend Field.
Wilmington (2-0) will host Heidelberg 7 p.m. Friday in Ohio Athletic Conference action, looking to end an 11-game losing streak to the Student Princes. Wilmington was 8-1 against Heidelberg at one but the Tiffin institution has made a dramatic turnaround in recent years.
“Hopefully as we continue to knock some of the rust off, we can settle in offensively a little quicker,” said WC head coach Bryan Moore. “Defensively we have been pretty sharp in the early part of both games, but dropped passes, turnovers and incomplete passes have led to some inconsistency offensively.
“We have been finishing games strong, now we need to start fast.”
The 2-0 start is the first for Wilmington since the 1999 season, when Mike Wallace was head coach and the Quakers started 5-0. That’s also the last time a WC football team won four straight games. Wilmington closed the 2019 season with two straight wins. The 2020 season was canceled because of Covid-19.
Wilmington won the final two games of the 2019 season, 41-34 over Capital and 28-27 over Otterbein. Prior to that the last time the team won two straight games was 2008 when Barry Wulf was head coach.
Comparing scores, Heidelberg blasted Capital last week 66-13. Wilmington won a 26-21 thriller with the Crusaders.
“They have all the components of a very good football team,” Moore said of the Student Princes. “An aggressive coaching staff allows their players to play fast and with plenty of confidence. Their special teams are a weapon and has our full attention.”
Moore spent time on the coaching staff for Heidelberg before coming to WC.
Kyle Barrett (47-80 passing, 603 yards, 4 TD) is averaging more than 300 yards passing per game while Malik Sims (21-106-0) and Yvan Tientcheu (21-100-0) have more than 100 yards rushing through two weeks.
Itika Wynn Jr. (10-115-2), Ace Taylor (9-144-0) and Lathan Jones (8-147-2) provide Barrett with a trio of targets, each with at least six receptions and more than 100 yards in the early going.
Heidelberg’s offense is led by signal-caller Drew Sims who had 349 yards and six touchdowns passing against CU. Heidelberg also has a strong ground game, with Branden Short and Jace Grossman lead the way as the Student Princes had 297 yards on the ground against the Crusaders.
On defense, Tavion Bryant, Xzerious Stinnett, Tre’Quez Parks, Jarod Lee and Jalaun Covington have led the way for the Quakers.
Zach Blackiston of HU had nine solo tackles, including a sack, against Capital.
WC has five turnovers in two games; HU had one turnover against Capital. Those turnovers have kept Wilmington from enjoying easy victories during its win streak.
“At one point a few years ago, we were just happy if we were competitive in the fourth quarter,” said Moore. “Then we were competitive but couldn’t figure out how to win close games. Now we have a taste of how to win them and the next step is to put four quarters of consistent football together in all three phases.”